Take One Tablet and Call Me in the Morning

Or don’t call me if you feel you made the wrong decision by not waiting a week or two. 2010 will see a large number of announcements and hopefully a large number of actual product introductions in the area of “Tablet” or “Slate” computing. This will be a very good working lab to understand how vendors will leapfrog each other with features, functionality and price every 3-6 months, and jockey for position to become the first to market with each new bundle. Clearly, Apple made a very visible splash with its iPad announcement and the market is still waiting for that product’s rollout. Simulaneously though, products such as HP’s Slate, the Notion Ink Adam and the Joojoo, among others, are also waiting in the wings to capture market share and mind share. Patience will be a virtue as will be discipline around requirements and need being addressed by each product before a purchase decision is made. Key decision discrimators at this time will be:

1) Is the device a true personal computer with computing capabilities supported by a multifunctional operating system such as Windows 7, Android or Linux? This is important since expectations as to how flexible the device might be in accessing and running third party applications can be driven by this factor.

2) Is the device a disposible appliance with a 2 year life? At costs around $500, one could argue that long term thinking isn’t strictly necessary if one is convinced the device will be disposed of and renewed on a 1-2 year cycle.

3) Are the content and solutions purchased for the device transferable freely across platforms or locked into one solution? This has particular relevance to #2 above and must be factored into total cost of ownership.

4) Is the device exandable and provide some degree of “future-proofing”? Again, if the purchase economics say 1-2 years of life is all you need, then this is less relevant, and probably content and applications will once again be the determiner of choice.

5) How will the device support me and integrate with my lifestyle and workstyle? Here, I propose developing a day-in-the-life scenario which pinpoints all the interaction areas and productivity enhancements the device is expected to deliver on a daily basis to insure best fit. Sub-topics then in this area should include considerations around:

a) Wifi and / or 3G, 4G
b) Cameras – 0, 1, or 2
c) Battery life
d) True portability, boot time if applicable, use in daylight / outdoors
e) Access to solutions and content
f) Price

Again, 2010 will be an interesting time in this space. If $500 is truly disposable income, don’t spend too much time over a decision, otherwise, stop and think!

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